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					                                Alternative Spring/Winter Break: FAQs

Please read this document carefully to see the answers for frequently asked questions about
LUPE’s Alternative Breaks program. If you have any questions that are not answered here, please
feel free to contact John-Michael at johnmichael@lupenet.org. Thanks!

LOGISTICS:

1. How many students would be ideal for us to send to your organization for alternative break?
           a. 10-12 students would be ideal, but we can accommodate smaller groups or up to
               15.
2. Is there a cost for volunteering at your agency & what is included?
           a. The tentative price is $150 for the whole week but we are flexible. This includes the
               organizers accompanying students to various sites for service, but does not include
               meals. Once we confirm your trip, we will provide you with an invoice to process the
               payment via check.
3. What type of precautions do volunteers need to take for each site and what should
   participants wear?
           a. Bug spray and sunscreen would probably be useful. Also long-sleeved shirts and
               pants for some of the days volunteering on housing and painting. Students can wear
               loose, comfortable clothing on most days depending on the weather, but on the day
               they will work on housing, they would need long pants, long sleeved shirts, and
               closed-toe shoes.
4. Do the student volunteers need to be Spanish-speakers?
           a. We would encourage your group to include 2-4 Spanish-speaking students since
               most of our members are most comfortable speaking in Spanish. However, there are
               enough bilingual folks among staff and members that it would not be a problem.
5. Do students need to bring any form of official identification?
           a. Yes. Please make sure all participants bring their official identification if they have it. A
               weird Texas state law makes it illegal to not carry your identification on your person if
               official identification has been issued to you. Your school-issued ID should be enough.
           b. It is very important that all students who are coming on the trip are citizens, legal
               permanent residents, or international students with valid visa. Any way that you
               leave the RGV, students will pass through immigration checks. Legal permanent
               residents need to have their green card or a photocopy, international students must
               show their visa or a photocopy, and citizens can use a driver's license, passport, or
               SS card or photocopy of SS card.

TRANSPORTATION:

    1. Your student group can reach LUPE in one of following ways. Since South Texas does not
       have convenient public transportation available, all options include van rentals in order to
       get around the offices.
           a. Fly into the nearest airport, which is McAllen International Airport (MFE), and rent
              vans at the airport to use for your week in the Rio Grande Valley. IMPORTANT
              NOTE: When passing through security on your trip back, you will be asked about
              citizenship status by Border Patrol agents. It is very important that all students who
              are coming on the trip are citizens, legal permanent residents, or international
              students. Legal permanent residents need to have their green card (or a photocopy),
              international students must show their visa (or a photocopy), and citizens can use a
              driver's license, passport, or SS card (or photocopy).
           b. Fly into Houston airport (either IAH or HOU), rent vans at the airport, and drive
              down to the Rio Grande Valley (about a 5-6 hour drive). IMPORTANT NOTE: When
              driving back to Houston, your vans will be stopped at the Border Patrol checkpoint
              where they will ask about citizenship status. It is very important that all students
              who are coming on the trip are citizens, legal permanent residents, or international
              students. Legal permanent residents need to have their green card (or a photocopy),
              international students must show their visa (or a photocopy), and citizens can use a
              driver's license, passport, or SS card (or photocopy).
           c. Rent vans from your local area and drive down to the Rio Grande Valley. Most
              student groups have preferred this option as it is the cheapest (but of course the
              longest). IMPORTANT NOTE: When driving back to your city, your vans will be
              stopped at the Border Patrol checkpoint where they will ask about citizenship
              status. It is very important that all students who are coming on the trip are citizens,
              legal permanent residents, or international students. Legal permanent residents
              need to have their green card (or a photocopy), international students must show
              their visa (or a photocopy), and citizens can use a driver's license, passport, or SS
              card (or photocopy).

   2. What are the directions to and from LUPE offices, other volunteering sites, and the
      lodging site?
          a. The document with the directions can be found by clicking here. You will receive an
             updated version of the directions a week prior to your trip or on your first day of
             service.


HOUSING & FOOD:

1. What are the lodging options for the week of service?
         a. St. Paul Lutheran Church partners with LUPE to provide affordable and comfortable
             lodging for students. They have a kitchen, bathroom/showers, cots/blankets, and
             towels. They are about 15 minutes away from LUPE’s main office.
         b. The cost at St. Paul Lutheran Church: $20 per student for the entire week (so if 10
             students are staying then the total cost for the week would be $200).
         c. Additional may be available. LUPE’s ASB coordinator will provide your group with
             the details once your trip is confirmed.

2. Does LUPE provide food? Are there grocery stores nearby?
          a. Students usually make their own breakfast and dinner. LUPE can provide lunch
             meals at the service site on service days (usually M-F) for students at a very minimal
              cost – currently at $3 a person per meal. The meals usually include tostadas,
              enchiladas, tamales, potatoes, soup, etc.
           b. Some students in the past have opted to make their own lunch at the LUPE site (we
              have kitchens in our offices). The closest grocery store is the local HEB store located
              conveniently throughout the main highway, close to our offices but there are also
              some close to the churches. There are also restaurants that could provide affordable
              food for students.

SERVICE WORK:

1. How is LUPE’s Alternative Break Program different from other programs?
          a. LUPE does not have 1 specific service project that students work on throughout the
             week (for example, building houses or working in a soup kitchen). Our emphasis is
             on the "learning" aspect and accordingly, we try our best to expose students to the
             variety of social justice issues at the US-Mexico border through a combination of
             service and learning opportunities. Sometimes students will be doing direct service
             (English tutoring, flyering in the colonias, refurbishing low-income housing) and
             other times they will be learning and discussing immigration issues (visiting the
             border wall, visiting El Milagro Clinic, presentations on immigration reform). We
             encourage participants to be respectful, keep an open-mind and understand that
             students are not here to “help” LUPE but to work in partnership with our members
             to create a more just community.
          b. Students will generally volunteer from Monday through Friday, starting at 9am and
             finishing their work day at 5pm. This general schedule may vary depending on the
             needs of the student group and our partner organizations.

2. What type of educational material can your organization recommend so that participants can
   better understand the social issue(s) they will be working with?
           a. Please click here for LUPE’s Alternative Break Resource Sheet – it has suggested
              websites, movies, articles, books, etc for pre-service education and awareness on
              immigration and immigrant rights.

3. What are the detailed descriptions of the services students will be doing?
         a. Once you confirm your trip, you will work with a staff member to come up with the
             weeklong schedule and service activities. Students generally work from about 9am-
             5pm Mon-Fri and there is room in the evening to explore the area. Examples of
             activities that might be included in the trip:
                   i. Learn about immigration reform and immigrant rights organizing through
                      local house meetings and presentations
                  ii. Witness and learn about the US-Mexico border wall
                 iii. Volunteer in colonias, low-income neighborhoods along the border
                 iv. Volunteer with Proyecto Azteca to refurbish and construct parts of housing
                      units for low-income residents
                  v. Visit El Milagro Clinic to learn about health-care access
                 vi. Learn about workers’ rights and immigrant women’s rights by visiting the
                      South Texas Civil Rights Project
                  vii. Visit La Posada Shelter to learn about immigrant detention/deportation
                 viii. Volunteer with La Posada Shelter to practice English with previously
                       detained migrants looking for asylum
                   ix. Meet with civil rights activists to learn about the work to combat human
                       rights abuses at the border
                    x. ***Please note that students will need to be flexible with LUPE and our
                       partner organizations as we work to accommodate everyone in sometimes
                       small spaces!***

4. What is the long term impact of LUPE’s Alternative Break Program?
          a. By attending our program, students have learned about important social justice
              issues and themselves. We ask that students take back what they’ve learned and
              relate the stories they heard and experiences they had at the border in order to help
              create a larger movement for immigrant rights.
          b. Because of the time and effort that goes into organizing alt break trips, we expect
              the student groups that we receive to have some kind of post-trip program to
              ensure that their trip has a larger impact than just the time spent with us. In the
              past, student groups have conducted fundraisers for specific LUPE projects, invited
              LUPE staff to speak at their University, and participated in their local organizing
              efforts for immigration reform/immigrant rights.

				
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